I’m still processing the fact that Prince has passed away. I had never met him (but did cross paths with the members of 3rd Eye Girl once), and understand that writing a blog about a musician that I never personally knew might seems strange, but I have spent so many hours listening to his music and researching/reading about him over the years that in some kind of strange way, (as silly as it sounds) I feel as though I’ve lost a friend.
A few years ago I set out to try collect as much Prince music as I possibly could and even started sourcing material he released as Jamie Starr, Camille or Joey CoCo just so that I could try and hear as much of what he was capable of musically as possible. (I still need to try get my hands on loads of “unofficial NPG releases” and have never been able to find an original GuitarWorld release of ‘The Undertaker’, but I’ll get there eventually).
As with most musicians, Prince (and his music) wasn’t always every one’s cup of tea. Many people felt he was at his best as a funk artist, while a few people out there feel that he contributed just as much to hip hop as a genre as many of it’s top stars. Again, there are those that feel he didn’t quite ‘get’ hip hop and should’ve remained a more mainstream pop/rock artist as per his ‘Purple Rain’ era. The bottom line however, is that Prince was an outstanding musical talent that inspired countless of people throughout the world over the last 3 decades, so whether you’re a fan of his music or not, you cannot deny how proficient he was on the numerous instruments he had the ability to play.
As a musician, Prince helped me understand that as great as it is being a multi instrumentalist and be able to play pretty much everything on ones own recordings, that allowing other musicians into your creative world can take your musical ideas to new heights, add new concepts and ideas and be a lot more fun.
I also think it was great that even after he took over the pop world like he did in the early/mid 1980’s, that he constantly pushed his own boundaries, both personally and musicality. Again a lot of material he released wasn’t always accepted as mainstream pop but he kept writing/creating even long after he financially needed too. There are countless other artists that have simply disappeared after they’ve made their millions and given how he could have comfortable lived off off the money he made as early as the mid 1980’s if he had wanted to, he could’ve done the same. Instead, he kept producing, helped establish other artists (Vanity 6, Sheila E, Judith Hill).
Plus, he could hold his own musically with anyone – he truly was one of a kind.
Add to the above the outstanding amount of charity work he did (which no one ever really talks about) and how he stood up for musicians rights in regards to how streaming and distribution of music has changed how musicians earn a living and it’s easy to see why we’ll never have another icon quite like him ever again.
So yes, I realize that this is usually a drum related blog but I would like to say thank you for the music Prince, you were a true inspiration, (I would’ve loved to have had the opportunity to have jammed with you). For the drummers out there who have never taken the time to research what Prince contributed to the drumming world I strongly suggest you do, he always brought some of the drummers we now love and admire to mainstream attention. Did I mention that he was even on the cover of Modern Drummer once (Jan 2005 issue). Amazing.